Are your goals designed to give you the best results?

Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said that goals are “dreams we convert to plans and take action to fulfill.”

He’s right: We can wish and hope that our dreams will come true, but without work nothing will change — and that goes for fitness and weight loss, too. Specific goals are like roadmaps that are tangible. If your goal is too broad — something like “weight loss” or “looking good” — the odds are you’ll never get there.

But, how can you? You must be ready to work — no quick fixes here. Here's how to design the ultimate workout plan.

One high-achieving marathoner says he screamed “I am a champion” to himself every day in the shower.

Change Your Mindset

There’s an old saying “you are what you eat,” remember that one? We have a similar one for achieving your goals: You are who you tell yourself you are.

Put simply: You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. However, it works the other way, too: If you don’t think you can meet your goals, you won’t.

Decide right now to stop all the negative self-talk and then replace it with the belief that you can meet your goals. Replace any negative reasoning — “I can’t run” — with a positive one — “I am a runner” — and repeat it to yourself constantly. One high-achieving marathoner says he screamed “I am a champion” to himself every day in the shower.

It might sound silly, but that simple affirmation helped him reframe any doubts in his mind and he’s finished (and won!) dozens of marathons and ultramarathons because of that shift (and a lot of practice, too!).

Make Your Roadmap with SMART Goals

Think about the last time you looked at a map. You have Point A — the place you’re located now — and Point B — the place you want to get to. But to get there you must travel down a long road filled with winding roads, turns and probably a few detours, too.

Your goals are like roadmaps. You’re at Point A right now and want to get to Point B, or the place where you complete your goal. But, how are you going to get there?

That’s where SMART goals come in.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time Based

“I want to lose weight” isn’t a SMART goal, but “I want to lose 10 pounds in two months” is because you’ve defined a goal you can measure in a specific period of time. It’s realistic, too — you’re not trying to lose 50 pounds in two weeks because that’s not attainable for most people.

A few more examples of diet and fitness SMART goals include:

  1. Get one unassisted pull-up within six months.
  2. Run an extra lap around the track every day for a month to improve endurance.
  3. Cook four meals at home each week instead of fast food or restaurant takeout.

If SMART goals seem daunting, you can dip your toes in the goal-setting waters by taking small steps that add up to big results. For example: Maybe you want to eat a more plant-based diet, but you don’t want to stop eating meat. You can start by swapping meat from your meal with plant-based foods that have a similar consistency, like mushrooms, jackfruit, tempeh or tofu.

Consistency + Time = Success

Easy come, easy go.

That’s what you get with crash diets and other fitness fads that promise a bikini body or instant weight loss. You might lose a few pounds, but the weight comes back once you stop trying — and often you end up gaining more.

In the real world, real success comes from consistent work done consistently. You can run a 5K, but if you haven’t run in years you have to first lace up your sneakers and train to run that first mile, then the second and so on.

Looking out on top of a mountain

The same goes with weight loss. You can absolutely lose 10, 20 or even 100 pounds, but that requires burning more calories than you eat for weeks, months or even years.

And with that consistency you’ll probably figure out what countless others have before you: Often it’s the journey to your goal that means the most, not achieving the actual goal.

Be Kind to Yourself

You’ll have good days and not-so-good days while you’re working toward your goals. That’s OK — and everyone faces those not-so-good days during their journeys. It might seem like others are “better” than you and are achieving their goals faster than you are.

Stop the comparison game. Everyone is in different stages in their journeys toward their goals, so give yourself some grace. Let the process be a learning and growth experience, not an impossible overnight transformation. You’ve got this.

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